Spoonhead Sculpin
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Note that the pelvic fins are not fused, there are 4 rays, the spine is fused with the first ray to form one element.
  • Close-up underside of head: Note that the gill membranes are broadly joined, forming a shallow angle; there is one midline chin pore.
  • Notice that the two dorsal fins are connected, the lateral line is complete, there are no scales; CPL/POD < 1.
  • Close-up pelvic fin: Note that the pelvic fins are not fused, there are 4 rays, the spine is fused with the first ray to form one element.
  • Close-up inside of mouth: Note the absence of palatine teeth.
  • Close-up flank and head: Notice the large preopercular spine, the dorso-ventrally flattened profile, and the prickles on the head and back.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Sculpins (Cottidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Terminal and very wide, with bands of fine teeth in bands on upper and lower jaws. No barbels. Snout rounded to blunt and dorsal-ventrally flattened. Body patterning, color, and scales: Mottled with irregular blotches, dark brown or black on a brown or tan background with a cream or whitish belly. No scales, but numerous fine prickles on top of head and dorsal surface of body. Fins with brownish speckles, spots, and/or blotches. Body shape and size: Body dorsal-ventrally flattened, especially anteriorly. Typically 35-85 mm (1.5-3.5 in) TL; maximum from Wisconsin about 100 mm (4 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Rounded or square tail. Two dorsal fins, slightly connected, the anterior with 7-9 flexible spines and the posterior with 16-18 rays. Pelvic fins thoracic, each with 1 spine and 4 rays. No adipose fin. Anal fin with 12-14 rays and no spines.
Distinguishing Characteristics
The spoonhead sculpin can be distinguished by its pair of free and independent pelvic fins and its lack of scales. See also similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to non-breeders.
Juveniles
Similar to adults.
Hybrids
None
Compare Similar Species
Pelvic Rays
Sculpin, Deepwater3
Sculpin, Mottled4
Sculpin, Slimy3
Sculpin, Spoonhead4
Prickles
Sculpin, DeepwaterFew, just above lateral line
Sculpin, MottledFew, below lateral line
Sculpin, SlimyFew, below lateral line
Sculpin, SpoonheadMany, on head and back
Lateral Line
Sculpin, DeepwaterComplete, or nearly so
Sculpin, MottledEnds below 2nd dorsal fin
Sculpin, SlimyEnds below 2nd dorsal fin
Sculpin, SpoonheadComplete
Dorsal Fins
Sculpin, Deepwater1st and 2nd clearly separate
Sculpin, Mottled1st and 2nd touching
Sculpin, Slimy1st and 2nd touching
Sculpin, Spoonhead1st and 2nd touching
Gill Membranes
Sculpin, DeepwaterNarrowly joined, meet at acute angle
Sculpin, MottledBroadly joined, meet at shallow angle
Sculpin, SlimyBroadly joined, meet at shallow angle
Sculpin, SpoonheadBroadly joined, meet at shallow angle
Exposed (not covered with skin) Preopercular Spines
Sculpin, Deepwater2-4; largest ≥1/2 of eye diameter in length
Sculpin, Mottled1; ~1/2 of eye diameter in length
Sculpin, Slimy1; ~1/2 of eye diameter in length
Sculpin, Spoonhead1; >2/3 of eye diameter in length
Midline Chin Pores
Sculpin, Deepwater1-2?
Sculpin, Mottled2
Sculpin, Slimy2
Sculpin, Spoonhead1
Palatine Teeth
Sculpin, DeepwaterPresent
Sculpin, MottledUsually present
Sculpin, SlimyUsually present
Sculpin, SpoonheadAbsent
Ratio of Caudal Peduncle Length to Post-Orbital Distance
Sculpin, Deepwater≤1
Sculpin, Mottled≤1
Sculpin, Slimy≥1
Sculpin, Spoonhead≤1
Similarity Index
Sculpin, DeepwaterVery similar
Sculpin, MottledVery similar
Sculpin, SlimyVery similar
Sculpin, SpoonheadN/A
Comments
Sculpin, SpoonheadModerately similar to round goby and tubenose goby, but distinguishable by its pair of free and independent pelvic fins and its lack of scales. In the gobies, the two pelvic fins are fused to form a disk and scales are present.
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